Sunday, October 31, 2021

Lovely Autumn

Just a few pictures of the season.

And the opening stanza from To Autumn by William Blake:
"O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stained
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe;
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruit and flowers."

Click to enlarge.

And Happy Halloween to all!

Sunday, October 24, 2021



Let me begin by saying that the praying mantis gets its common name from the typical folded front legs pose that gives the impression of prayer. But I hear that they don't all follow the same religion -- they are in sects.

Just kidding. Click to enlarge

Just can't help noticing how many of them are around out there lately. They got really big from a summer of catching and eating other insects.

Gotta love the faces.

I saw the three individuals pictured here on a single walk in the woods. It's hard to miss a 4- or 5-inch long insect, even when it's sitting still and trying to blend in.

Seems like only yesterday that I could hold one on my thumb. They grow up so fast.

Sunday, October 17, 2021

Pine Barrens Gentians


I anticipate snowdrop flowers at the end of winter. I spend the spring and summer stalking wild orchids. And now at the end of the growing season are the pine barrens gentians.

These blue autumn flowers are natives of North American coastal pine barrens from South Carolina to New Jersey. These lovelies were photographed in the New Jersey pine barrens near the town of Chatsworth.

I know there are lots of other flowers blooming in the autumn fields, but I think of the gentians as the last flowers of the year. And that makes me think of a poem called The Last Flower by Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, which begins: Rich the first flower's graces be, 
But dearer far the last to me...

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Pumpkin Time


Roadside farm markets are selling pumpkins, squash, and gourds right now. It's time to take a nice ride in the country. Try to decide among all the interesting colors and shapes. Like classic orange. 

Plain white.

Or the rainbow of pumpkin colors.
And fairy tale shapes.  

So many other kinds of vegetable loveliness.

Here are a few lines from The Pumpkin by John Greenleaf Whittier

"Oh, greenly and fair in the lands of the sun,
The vines of the gourd and the rich melon run,
And the rock and the tree and the cottage enfold,
With broad leaves all greenness and blossoms all gold," 


Just be careful to avoid the squash monsters among them.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Best Caterpillar Ever

October comes with thoughts of pumpkin spice lattes, cool nights, colored leaves, and plans for Halloween. On my list, also, is the hunt for stinging rose caterpillars. I trust that one look at the specimen above will explain why. Brightly colored, striped and spiked, it is a beautiful thing. Click to enlarge and admire. 

Stinging rose caterpillars come in shades from yellow through orange to brighter red. You can see stripes on the top and sides of this yellow one. Call me crazy, but they always make me think of fruit-flavored hard candies in all your favorite flavors.

These east coast caterpillars feed on rose foliage, which explains part of their common name -- though I have only ever found them on bayberry in sand dunes near the ocean. They also feed on dogwood, apple, cherry, hickory, maple, poplar, and oak according to the Arthropod Museum of the University of Arkansas.
You should not touch a stinging rose caterpillar because its spines contain toxins and can break off and irritate human skin, which explains the rest of its common name.   
 The hard-to-find stinging rose caterpillar. It is my favorite among all the caterpillars.   Is it not awesome?